If you’re thinking of buying one of Microsoft’s new Surface 2 or Surface 2 Pro tablets when they go on sale next Tuesday (October 22) keep the accessories in mind. There are going to be a number of great add-ons designed to enhance the tablet's value to business users and professionals.
One of the problems with the first-generation Surface tablets was the battery life; the Surface RT was quoted at around 6 hours with the power-hungry Surface Pro hanging on for just four hours.
Microsoft admitted there had been “trade-offs” with the design but the firm does at least appear to be better equipped to deal with the problem this time round, having announced the new Power Cover when unveiling the Surface 2 tablets.
The Power Cover is essentially a Type Cover with an embedded 30w battery, and Microsoft officials have claimed that it can boost tablet battery life by as much as 50-75%.
You'll have to wait for the keyboard case to land however, with the accessory scheduled to debut in early 2014 for $199.99.
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Microsoft took the wraps off the Surface Docking Station at the launch event in New York and the early signs are that this accessory has what it takes to improve your productivity on your Surface.
As rumours detailed prior to the event, the Docking Station allows you to connect the Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2 (sadly, there is no compatibility with the Surface RT or Surface) to desktop PC peripherals, such as an external monitor, speakers or power supply.
This happens via the dock’s USB 3.0 and 2.0 connections, although there are also outputs for mini DisplayPort and Ethernet. The Surface Pro just slides into the dock, which is also able to hook-up to an external monitor running at a resolution as high as 3840 x 2160.
The Docking Station, which will be available in black, is due to retail for $199.99 early next year.
Type Cover 2
On paper, the second-generation Type Cover doesn’t look too much different than the first; it sports a similar design, the same collection of colors (cyan, magenta, purple and black) and is available for pre-order at the same price of $129.99.
But there have been noticeable improvements. The Type Cover 2, which is “almost as thin” as the original Touch Cover and which works with the Surface Pro 2, now has a backlit keyboard and is said to be better equipped for using on your lap.
That last claim comes from Surface VP Panos Panay, who said that the Type Cover’s new multi-angle kickstand promotes better “lapability”.
Touch Cover 2
Microsoft’s highly-rated Touch Cover has also received a revamp and, on paper at least, looks very impressive.
The keyboard folio offers backlit-keys, supports predictive tech and has a staggering 1092 sensors to better detect what and where you’re typing. By the way of comparison, the original Touch Cover – which was some 1mm thicker at 3.75mm – only had 80 sensors.
The Touch Cover 2 is now available for pre-order at $119.99.
Car charger with USB port
It’s unlikely to draw attention like the new Touch or Type Covers, but the new Surface car charger is exceptionally handy, especially for those Surface-toting road warriors.
The Car Charger with USB Port connects – as the name infers – to the Surface 2 tablets by USB and will plug straight into most car charging ports. The accessory will sell for $49.99 when it comes to market at the start of 2014.
Arc Touch Mouse Surface Edition
To celebrate the launch of the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2, Microsoft also quietly announced the new Arc Touch Mouse Surface Edition.
Essentially a redesigned version of last year's Arc Touch mouse, the new version is stylish and can be flattened to free-up space when travelling. The mouse connects with devices (it should also works with other laptops and PCs) via Bluetooth 3.0 and can now be pre-ordered for $69.99.
i-Blason HD Matte Anti-Glare Bubble Free Screen Protector
People get all kinds of dirt on their smartphones and tablets. With that in mind, here’s an excellent screen protector for your Surface 2 or Surface Pro 2.
The i-Blason HD Matte screen protector apparently promises patent-pending bubble free technology and can be applied onto your tablet in a matter of seconds.
Available online for under $10 and for the Surface 2 or Surface Pro 2, the i-Blason Screen Protector comes with installation instructions, a microfiber polishing cloth, bubble removal tape and a one year replacement warranty.
Alternatively, Zagg offers a similar solution at Best Buy for $35.
Snugg Leather Case
If the Type and Touch Covers are a little too pricey for your liking – and a bigger priority is getting a business-like case rather than a keyboard – the Snugg Leather Case is a worthwhile investment.
Available for just $24.99 on Amazon, the case has an artificial leather Nubuck Fiber interior and is secured with a magnetic flap. It even has a card slot to keep business cards, bank cards and USB sticks.
The case fits all first and second-generation Surface tablets and is available in brown or black.
If you want a case with a kickstand, Moko’s black sleeve case is smart enough and affordable too at $26.99.